The wild brunch: Skye Gyngell's hearty mid-morning meals - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

The wild brunch: Skye Gyngell's hearty mid-morning meals

Fresh fruit, simple, natural produce - and soft, fluffy pancakes...

Sometimes I rather shamefully suggest people do things I don't do myself. One of them is breakfast. I have spent years suggesting to my eldest daughter that she eats something in the morning, yet I can't remember the last time I ate anything then myself – coffee suffices. I do, however, find that by around 10am I am starving, and this is when I eat my first meal of the day. That's why brunch is one of my favourite meals.

In the summer, fruit is what I crave – cool and gently sweet accompanied by yoghurt, toasted muesli or honey. Pancakes are delicious and indulgent, and I adore simply grilled sourdough bread with either ripe tomatoes, olive oil and plenty of crunchy sea salt, or topped with fruit.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, www.petershamnurseries.com

Bananas, strawberries and ricotta on sourdough

For some reason, this dish reminds me of my home town of Sydney – I think perhaps because it is quite Australian in feel. Sydneysiders love breakfast and on the weekends all the cafés along the beach are spilling out with people hungrily eating after a swim in the surf.

Serves 1 (just multiply the amounts according to how many are eating)

1 slice of 1/2-inch-thick sourdough bread
2 tbsp of very fresh ricotta cheese
1 banana, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise
4 strawberries, sliced in half
1/2 tbsp light flavoured honey, such as acacia
A tiny pinch of salt
A squeeze of lemon juice

Grill the bread until golden- brown, spoon over the ricotta, arrange the banana and strawberries on top and drizzle over the honey. Finish with the smallest crumble of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Pancakes with raspberry butter and maple syrup

Serves 6

150g/5oz softened butter
1 punnet of raspberries
125g/4oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp caster sugar
1 egg
170ml/6fl oz whole milk
Maple syrup, to serve

First, make the raspberry butter. Put the butter into a clean bowl and beat using a wooden spoon until light and slightly paler in colour. Using the back of a fork, slightly mash the raspberries and then stir gently through the butter, then set aside while you make the pancakes.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg and pour in the milk and whisk until smooth. Rest for 15 minutes. Now heat a small non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush with a little butter (be careful not to let the butter brown). Spoon a ladleful of batter into the centre of the pan, turn down the heat slightly and cook for two minutes. Once bubbles begin to appear on the surface, turn the pancakes and cook for a minute on the other side. Very often the first pancake is less than perfect, but don't be disheartened: this is completely normal.

Serve hot from the pan with a spoonful of raspberry butter and as much maple syrup as you feel like.

Poached peaches and gooseberries with Greek yoghurt and rosewater

These peaches are clean and refreshing, gently sweet and delicate. They should be served very well chilled.

Serves 4

1 punnet of gooseberries
4 ripe peaches or nectarines
11/2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
Greek yoghurt, to serve

Wash the gooseberries well, remove the top and base, which are prickly and coarse, and place in a saucepan. Tear the peaches in half using your fingers and discard their stone. Place in the saucepan along with the gooseberries and add the icing sugar and rosewater. Place over a very low heat and cook, stirring every now and then until the fruit is soft but not falling apart. Remove from the stove and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge and chilling for two hours.

Serve alongside a little thick and creamy Greek-style yoghurt.

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